Justin Bullock, FISM News
The newly commissioned Ransomware Task Force in the Justice Department is getting off to a good start after recovering over half of the ransom paid by fuel distributor Colonial Pipeline to Russia based criminal hacker group DarkSide. FISM News previously reported on this story as it was happening last month. Darkside engaged in a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline and forced Colonial Pipeline to pay 71 bitcoins or approximately $4.4 million as valued at the time of payment. In addition, Darkside’s attack caused fuel access up and down the East Coast to plummet, resulting in a quick and substantial jump in gasoline prices.
Although the FBI was initially tasked with investigating and prosecuting this case it was quickly handed off to the newly formed Ransomware Task Force. President Biden created this special task force a little over a month ago within the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the flurry of recent ransomware attacks . The FBI continued to assist and on Monday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that the new cybercrime task force had recovered 63.7 bitcoins of the ransom, now valued at $2.3 million following the cryptocurrency market tumble.
Monaco told the Associated Press (AP) on Monday,
By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital extortion attacks — including criminal proceeds in the form of digital currency — we will continue to use all of our resources to increase the cost and consequences of ransomware and other cyber-based attacks.
The Deputy Attorney General and the FBI did not disclose any further details regarding the other two major ransomware attacks on the D.C. Police and on major meat producer JBS. However, the taskforce and the FBI are reported to be assisting in the ongoing investigations in those cases as well as other more minor attacks that have taken place in recent days. Colonial Pipeline President and CEO, Joseph Blount, told the AP that, “[t]he private sector also has an equally important role to play and we must continue to take cyber threats seriously and invest accordingly to harden our defense.”